Who is the End User of Real Estate Tech?
As a Real Estate Agent, are the tools you’re offering to clients beneficial to you or them? Are the frictions in the home buying and selling process a result of technology developed with the wrong end-user in mind?
It’s All About the Experience
Why do people pay for fine dining? What about first class seats? A luxury car? It’s about the experience. It is easy to see how Michelin star restaurants, airlines, and Italian car manufacturers understand that the ultimate customer is the diner, traveler, and driver, respectively, of their business. Can we say the same for the most common Real Estate Agent tools?
Unlike added legroom, a flashy CRM or beautifully designed website doesn’t add much, if at all, to the ultimate end-user experience. If you think this blog is about to praise Zillow for introducing a client-facing search portal, I’m going another direction: I’m lumping in Zillow with the rest of those who miss the point in developing Real Estate technology.
The end user of every real estate technology needs to be the home buyer and seller.
Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk is not only my favorite, but perfectly addresses this issue. Sinek argues every firm knows what they’re building, fewer firms and leaders know and can explain how they’re building it, and only the best leaders and firms are those that clearly understand why they’re developing their products and organization.
In a previous life I was a Data Analyst at Morningstar. The company values clearly state their end users: investors. Adopting this motto for real estate technology developers yields the below powerful value statement:
Putting home buyers and sellers’ interests above all else is the foundation of our company. We believe that our strength comes largely from the faith that home buyers and sellers have in us. Whether we’re developing new products or growing our company, our ultimate goal is to help the home buyer or seller.
At the center of everything Morningstar develops is the investor. Can the Real Estate Industry say this across all products?
The Indie Home Buying Experience
According to the National Association of Realtors, 79% of Real Estate Brokerages have a single office and three or fewer licenses. There’s a lot to like about “Indie” brokerages:
Authenticity — intimate knowledge and experience in the market
Flexibility — less red tape to get from start to finish
Talent — teams are growing as a percentage of the real estate agent makeup, and boutiques have deep experience amongst their agents
Unfortunately, the benefits can be offset by the lack of adequate tools offered to clients. In a day and age when everything is mobile and connected, it can be frustrating leaving voicemails, forwarding emails because someone didn’t hit ‘Reply All’, and abandoning the “free” tools offered by the MLS that aren’t consumer friendly, resulting in more friction and frustration for clients.
Love ’em or hate ’em, Compass has continued to forcefully demonstrate the need and value of tools that enhance the client experience. For boutiques, the option is to ‘build’ or ‘buy’ — and few have the ability to do the former, so managing brokers are deciding on what tools to buy (or stay with what they’ve got, which usually ain’t pretty).
At Homebloq, the technology we develop are not only fully branded to the Brokerage or Team as a lead generation tool and offer a fully-MLS powered and client-driven search, we make communicating in the app seamless and our saved searches work with Zillow links, all developments with the home buyer in mind. We’re continuing to search for ways to put the home buyer at the focal point of development, to the benefits of agents.
However, we don’t believe in simply throwing technology at the problem as a solution. That ultimately comes from enabling already great agents with a great client-facing tool.
Tech is Only Part of the Solution
Even the most advanced technology available to us today cannot make ambiguous, often times complex or emotionally driven, decisions. Technology can, however, handle much of what agents do that do not add value to their clients.
Managing brokers need to wisely choose their technology tools in order to grow their firms. Technology should be a complimentary piece, and technology firms that focus on that, as opposed to replacement tools, will win out. When asking yourself, “Where is my money best spent to earn the highest ROI?” put yourself in the shoes of your clients. What is going to help you establish your brand and reputation? What is going to earn you referral business? What’s going to allow you to take that next step in your career?
Who is at Your “WHY”?
Ask yourself the same three questions that Sinek uses. Here’s ours at Homebloq:
What: We build fully branded software tools for boutiques and teams.
How: By understanding the problems agents face in helping clients buy homes while establishing their brand to successfully grow their business and become a better agent.
Why: Because agents who can offer their clients a better experience will ultimately be more successful and provide home buyers with the home search they deserve.